Criswell: Grappling with the question of why

Parkland, Florida, 17 killed. Las Vegas, Nevada, the worse mass shooting, 70 people shot, 12 killed. Add Charleston, Paducah and Columbine to the list. Why?

There are no words to describe the anguish felt by those who are suffering. Why? Why did God allow this?

A national survey asked people what question they’d ask if they could only ask God one thing. The No. 1 response was: “Why is there suffering in the world?”

Jesus was honest. He said in John 16:33 “You will have suffering in this world.” He didn’t say you might. He said it is going to happen.

A married couple who love Jesus couldn’t have a baby for years. Then they got pregnant, nine months later gave birth and the baby died. Why?

A 17 -year-old girl going to Bible study, at the same time there was a guy who had too much to drink hit her head on. It was this third time to be arrested. She was killed. Why?

I know a lot of people reading this have asked the question, “Why?”

Why did my son or daughter have to die? Why do some people have the greatest desire to get married, love the Lord, but go to bed at night alone? Why do some couples get married, promise to love each other forever and end up crushing each other? Why does a person go into a school and shoot children and teachers? Why?

In all honesty, I am not going say I know. I don’t know but I want to give you what I’ve found helpful whenever I’m prompted to ask why.

1. God is not the creator of evil and suffering. He created a world where tragedy and suffering did not exist. It was all good. We were given a choice, a free will and we blew it in the garden, then all hell broke loose. Evil exists.

2. Though suffering isn’t good, God can use it to accomplish good. Look at Easter. God took the worst thing that has ever happened in the history of the universe, the death of Christ on the cross, and turned it into the very best thing that has happened in the universe, the opening up of heaven to all who have faith in Him. So He can do the same with you.

3. The day is coming when suffering will cease and God will judge evil. Sickness and pain will be gone. People will be held accountable, that day will come, but not yet.

4. Our suffering is pale in comparison to what God has in store for His followers. 2 Cor. 4:17 “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us the eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

5. We decide whether to turn bitter and run away from God or turn to God for peace and courage. I started with John 16:33. Here is the entire verse: “I told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. But be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

The two things we need the most is offered: Peace to deal with the presence and Courage to deal with our future.

Life is short, life is not fair and life is so fragile. When tragedy strikes, as it will, when suffering comes, as it will, when you’re wrestling with pain, as you will, all of us will go through pain and suffering, the question is “Are you ready?”

We just celebrated Easter! But on the cross even Jesus asked the question, “Why God?” God forsook Jesus because He became sin, took all our sins on Him. A holy God cannot tolerate sin, so God turned away from His dying Son.

Another why God forsook Jesus: So that we could be forgiven!

God is in control, He sees the entire picture, the entire parade. We only see what is directly in front of us.

That is why I trust Him and will not always know the answer to the question, “Why?”

“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Whit Criswell is pastor of Cornerstone Christian Church. He can be reached at or 859-621-9012.